Following the murder of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old man killed by police, many gun-rights advocates have spoken out about two things facing the Black community: no-knock warrants and gun rights. Locke was a legal gun owner but his license wouldn’t have saved him from being automatically perceived as “criminal.”
ABC News spoke with gun-rights advocates on how Black legal gun owners who face dangers because of racism.
“Amir Locke, a lawful gun owner, should still be alive,” said Bryan Strawser, the chair of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a non-profit gun rights advocacy group, in a statement. “Black men, like all citizens, have a right to keep and bear arms. Black men, like all citizens, have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure.”
When Minneapolis SWAT officers barged into the apartment where Locke was staying, he was asleep on the couch under a blanket with his gun beside him. Upon seeing the gun as he emerged from his blanket, Officer Hanneman fired shots at him.
Sarah Murtada, leader of Knock First Minnesota, told ABC News people have the right to own guns under the Second Amendment and a lot of the time people use those guns for self-protection. Locke was sleeping and was startled out of his sleep to utter chaos. He probably thought his life was danger.
We know this isn’t the first case of a Black legal gun owner being killed either. Philando Castile was armed, told the officer out of caution that he was licensed and was still killed. Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker is a legal gun owner, who used his gun for self-defense as he thought his house was being invaded. As a result, officers rained fire inside the apartment costing Breonna her life.
Those are only a few examples.
ABC News reported 58 percent of people shot and killed by police over that past few years were armed and Black people made up 22 percent of those killings since 2015.
In November 2021, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a national trade association in the firearms industry, told ABC News that when comparing 2019 to 2020, there was a 58.2% increase in gun purchases among Black people.
“After the murder of Philando Castile, we [at the Black Gun Owner Association] began to strategically focus and educate our members on how to successfully interact with police when being stopped with a licensed firearm, [we] realize there is a double standard as to the way black gun owners are perceived and we work tirelessly to try and change that perception,” said the Black Gun Owner Association in a statement to ABC News.
Apparently we can’t protect ourselves with the same weapon often used to execute us.